Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Hypocrisy on Firearms Enforcement? Congressman Beyer, Heal Thyself!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hypocrisy on Firearms Enforcement? Congressman Beyer, Heal Thyself!

On April 11, U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA) rolled out his so-called ATF Enforcement Act, H.R. 4905 in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.  Beyer claimed hypocrisy on the part of NRA and other pro-gun advocates who claim existing laws are not being adequately enforced. “We should call their bluff,” he wrote.

Those are big words coming from the author of a bill he claims would “remove obstacles in [ATF’s] path, while also removing provisions in the law that keep ATF from being abolished.” Either Beyer has not read his own legislation, or his version of “protect[ing] communities from violent criminals” includes registering law-abiding gun purchasers in a national database and other practices Congress has long repudiated because they diverted resources away from serious crime control.

As longtime Second Amendment advocates know, the history of ATF is the history of an agency trying to get its priorities straight. ATF has from its inception suffered from a tendency to focus on technical violations of complex regulations at the expense of individuals or businesses acting in good faith, rather than actually going after dangerous people who misuse firearms for criminal ends.

Scholar Dave Hardy explained how the original Gun Control Act of 1968 “was an invitation—actually, dozens of invitations —for [bureaucratic] abuse” and how ATF “began as a small branch of the IRS, mostly directed at shutting down ‘moonshiners’ in the rural South.” As Hardy put it, “they had been trained to bust moonshiners in the hills, not to make undercover buys in the inner city, which could be quite dangerous. Many turned to making cases against targets that were easier and safer to deal with—namely, gun collectors and dealers.”

Hardy wrote that account in the context of examining 1986’s Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA), which was Congress’ first major reaction to these bureaucratic abuses and misdirection of effort. Since that time, however, Congress has continued to keep ATF on track through defunding agency initiatives that primarily affect law-abiding gun owners and merchants instead of addressing violent crime. In all these situations, the goal (or outcome) has never been to handicap ATF from pursuing violent criminals but, indeed, to encourage the agency and free up its resources to do just that.

Beyer’s bill does absolutely nothing to expand ATF’s capacity to strike at the heart of crime. Rather, it simply revisits a generation worth of appropriations riders that Congress passed to protect law-abiding Americans from allowing the Gun Control Act to be used as a political cudgel against America’s tradition of lawful firearm ownership. Needless to say, this political abuse has only increased under President Obama’s watch, with outrages such as the Fast & Furious scandal and the administration’s attempt to ban, by executive fiat, one of the most popular types of ammunition for America’s most popular rifle.

The appropriations riders that Beyer’s bill would repeal include those that:

  • Prohibit using the records of federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) -- including records concerning which customers legally bought which firearms -- from being centralized into a searchable, electronic federal registry;
     
  • Require personally-identifying records of lawful firearm sales, generated via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to be deleted within 24 hours (sales that are denied by NICS may already be retained);
     
  • Prohibit exactly the scenario we warned of in January, in which casual private sellers are pressured into becoming federal licensees, only to have their licenses revoked for low “business” volume;
     
  • Prohibit nosy media outlets and antigun activists from filing Freedom of Information Requests on mandatory FFL reports regarding customers who buy multiple handguns (these reports are filed with and available to law enforcement agencies already);
     
  • Prohibit the release of firearm trace information to antigun groups and trial lawyers so it can be misrepresented to the public (again, this information remains available to law enforcement agencies for legitimate enforcement efforts);
     
  • Require ATF to remind those who do obtain trace information of its limits in extrapolating broad conclusions about the entire universe or sources of “crime guns;”
     
  • Ban the importation of various collectible and popular firearms that already exist in large numbers in America (and have been previously imported lawfully) through increasingly restrictive interpretations of the law; and
     
  • Prohibit ATF’s functions or activities from being reassigned to other agencies.

Nothing in these riders prevents ATF from using traditional law enforcement investigative techniques and strategies to make cases against violent criminals who are using firearms to perpetrate their offenses or those who are intentionally supplying criminals with firearms. Indeed, law enforcement professionals (including ATF itself) have opposed the sort of release of firearm trace data that Beyer’s bill would allow.

Beyer’s Bill would also remove the Senate from the process of appointing ATF’s director. Why this should be a concern to a gun control advocate like Beyer is unclear. The U.S. Senate confirmed B. Todd Jones, President Obama’s nominee to head the agency, in 2013. They certainly can’t be blamed for Jones’s lackluster tenure or his decision to resign less than two years after his appointment.

Substance, however, is not the point of Beyer’s Act. Rather, it is a silly and ham-handed attempt to “send a message” that anybody familiar with federal firearms law will immediately recognize as nothing more than election year political grandstanding that would have no real impact on violent crime if passed.

TRENDING NOW
California: Bullet Button Guns Must be Purchased and Received by Dec 31st

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

California: Bullet Button Guns Must be Purchased and Received by Dec 31st

Recently the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms sent out a notice to California firearms dealers with information regarding the recently passed “assault weapon” legislation, SB880 and AB 1135.

New Jersey:  Urgent! Legislation Puts Shooting Ranges in Crosshairs

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Jersey: Urgent! Legislation Puts Shooting Ranges in Crosshairs

Shooting ranges as we know them may be a thing of the past if anti-gun politicians have their way in the Garden State.  A pair of dangerous bills are scheduled in the Assembly Law & ...

Illinois: Suppressor Legalization Legislation Passes out of Senate Committee - But your Senator Still Needs to Hear from You!

Hunting  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Illinois: Suppressor Legalization Legislation Passes out of Senate Committee - But your Senator Still Needs to Hear from You!

Thanks to your emails and calls, Senate Bill 206, legislation which would legalize the possession and use of suppressors in Illinois, was passed out of committee and has been sent to the Senate floor for consideration.

Gun Control Supporters Race to Embarrass Themselves Following OSU Stabbing Attack

News  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gun Control Supporters Race to Embarrass Themselves Following OSU Stabbing Attack

Guinness World Records may refuse to acknowledge feats pertaining to the lawful exercise of right to keep and bear arms, but how about a world record for most shameless attempt to politicize tragedy? The competition would ...

Eleventh Hour Changes to Federal Firearm Form

News  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Eleventh Hour Changes to Federal Firearm Form

In what will hopefully be one of the final acts of the Obama Administration on firearms, the ATF on Monday announced that its proposed changes to the Form 4473 would go into effect on January ...

News  

Friday, July 1, 2016

California Governor Signs Draconian Gun Control Package into Law

Fairfax, Va.— California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday a package of gun bills that were rushed through the state legislature with no regard for proper process. The National Rifle Association Institute for ...

DNC Chair Frontrunner Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is an Anti-Second Amendment Radical

News  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

DNC Chair Frontrunner Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is an Anti-Second Amendment Radical

It appears that those gun rights supporters hoping that the leaders of the Democratic Party would engage in a moment of self-reflection following their historic defeat in the 2016 election may be left wanting. Despite ...

NRA Applauds the Pre-Filing of Texas Senate Bill 16

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NRA Applauds the Pre-Filing of Texas Senate Bill 16

Your NRA-ILA applauds Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and state Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) for prioritizing and pre-filing legislation for the 85th regular session to address License To Carry (LTC) fees in Texas.

Peruta Case is Supreme Court Bound -- Help Bring Shall Issue to California

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Peruta Case is Supreme Court Bound -- Help Bring Shall Issue to California

Now that we have secured a big win in the presidential election, NRA is working with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) to take the Peruta case to the U.S. Supreme Court and bring ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.